NEW YORK — Ogilvy PR has named Robert Mathias as CEO in North America, while Michael Law, the firm’s west coast lead, will join sister WPP agency Burson-Marsteller as US president. Dave DenHerder will remain CEO of Burson in the US, confirmed a source at the agency.
Mathias is currently president of Ogilvy Washington and will continue to serve in a dual role. As CEO, Mathias will be tasked with working with Ogilvy & Mather to deliver an integrated offering across the region. He will report to both Ogilvy PR global CEO Chris Graves and Ogilvy & Mather chairman and CEO of North America John Seifert.
The position had been open since 2010, when former head of North America Paul Hicks left Ogilvy PR to join the NFL as head of comms. Graves, who has been global CEO since 2009, told the Holmes Report he intentionally left the position vacant to “really figure out what we needed.”
“Since I was a new global CEO then, I didn’t want to rush to fill it,” Graves said. “I played the role of US CEO and global CEO until the timing was right. It was not sustainable for me to continue [in both roles].”
Graves said he intends for Mathias to duplicate the success of the Washington office, the agency’s largest, across North America.
“Washington is a top-rated office no matter which metric you use” including growth, profitability, margins and talent. “We said, ‘wow, if you could make every office like that, it would be terrific,” Graves said.
Additionally, Nathan Friedman, managing director of Ogilvy PR’s Chicago office, will take over the vacancy left by Law, a 22-year veteran of the agency. Friedman will assume the role of regional managing director of Ogilvy West, overseeing operations in Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Denver.
Graves acknowledged Ogilvy’s San Francisco office had recently experienced significant attrition after losing key accounts, BMC Software and Chevron. He predicts Friedman’s appointment will be a “morale raiser."
“Ogilvy West was used to soaring growth and that wasn’t the case in 2012,” Graves said. “That’s behind us and we’re now in a position for a very good scenario in 2013.”
Friedman will also continue to oversee the Chicago office until a replacement is named. He has worked on a number of the agency’s global accounts, including LG Electronics.